A History Of The Holocaust
A History Of The Holocaust
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Holocaust Remembrance Day Proclamation
A History Of The Holocaust

The members of Living Springs recognize the Holocaust as an important event in history. We grieve the loss of over six million Jewish lives, as well as others, taken during the Holocaust. We stand in recognition of the great price paid to halt the regime responsible for these events.

We recognize and denounce calls for the destruction of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. We stand firm against the continuing international trend to erode the sovereignty of Israel and the identity of the Jewish people.

We are grateful for the leadership the nation of Israel has and continues to provide, as well as the sacrifices they have made in the fight against terrorism, which threatens us all.

We would like to thank President Trump for finally fulfilling the promise that the US Embassy be moved to the eternal capital of Israel, which is the city of Jerusalem.

May God bless the Jewish people as they exercise their right to return to the land God gave them. For the good of all, may the world never repeat, and always remember, the tragedy of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 28, 2022

Jewish Year 5782

Yom Ha-Shoah is a shortening from Yom Ha-Shoah Ve Hagevurah which means, "Devastation and Heroism Day" in Hebrew. In Israel the day was made a national public holiday in 1959, and in America we know the day as Holocaust Remembrance Day!

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day that has been set aside for remembering the victims of the Holocaust and for reminding Americans of what can happen to civilized people when bigotry, hatred and indifference reign. The United States Holocaust Memorial Council, created by act of Congress in 1980, was mandated to lead the nation in civic commemorations and to encourage appropriate Remembrance observances throughout the country. Observances and Remembrance activities can occur during the week of Remembrance that runs from the Sunday before through the Sunday after the actual date.

Year 27th of Nisan Date for Yom Ha-Shoah
2016 Thursday, May 5 Thursday, May 5
2017 Sunday, April 23 Monday, April 24
2018 Thursday, April 12 Thursday, April 12
2019 Thursday, May 2 Thursday, May 2
2020 Tuesday, April 21 Tuesday, April 21
2021 Friday, April 9 Thursday, April 8
2022 Thursday, April 28 Thursday, April 28
2023 Tuesday, April 18 Tuesday, April 18
2024 Sunday, May 5 Monday, May 6

While there are obvious religious aspects to such a day, it is not a religious observance as such. The internationally-recognized date comes from the Hebrew calendar and corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on that calendar. That is the date on which Israel commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. When the actual date of Yom Ha-Shoah falls on a Friday (as will happen in 2021) the state of Israel, following the Knesset legislation establishing the event, observes Yom Ha-Shoah on the preceding Thursday. When it falls on a Sunday (as happened in 2014), Yom Ha-Shoah observances happen on the following Monday. In 1961 a law was passed in Israel which closed all public entertainment on Yom Ha-Shoah, and at ten in the morning, a siren is sounded. Everyone stops what they are doing, people pull over in their cars, and all stand in remembrance of the over 6,000,000 Jewish victims as well as other murdered during the Holocaust!

"While not all victims were Jews, all Jews were victims."
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel

2022 Torchlighters

Each year six torches are lit in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. Their wartime experiences reflect the central theme chosen by Yad Vashem for Holocaust Remembrance Day. The torches are lit during the central memorial ceremony held at Yad Vashem on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Shmuel Blumenfeld

Shmuel Blumenfeld was born in 1926 in the city of Krakow, Poland, to a family of rabbis and scribes. When he was born, his family of seven moved north to the town of Proszowice.

Days after they invaded Poland in September 1939, Proszowice was occupied by the Germans.

"In early 1942, they seized young men for forced labor, but I evaded it. But when they arrested my father, I came forward. I was beaten and detained in a prison, and from there they sent me to Plaszow, a forced labor camp near Krakow."

Shmuel's father, Avraham Yehoshua Heshl Blumenfeld, was murdered at Plaszow.

In June 1942, Shmuel was witness to an Aktion, in which Jews were deported from Krakow.

"I saw Germans, Poles and men from the Jewish Order Police guarding the deportees. They put them on the trains and locked the wagons. I knew they were going to their deaths, and I decided to escape and return home. I only wished to die with my family. I sneaked away with the shovel, and made the 40-kilometer journey home, to Proszowice."

In August 1942, the town was surrounded in advance of the liquidation of the Jews of the town. "I told my friend, 'Let's escape to the labor camp.' My mother [Roza Blumenfeld née Platkewicz] also urged me to do so. She felt that they and all the Jews of the town were going to die. She gave me half the money she had. I never imagined that would be that last time I would see my family."

Before the deportation of the Jews from Proszowice to the Belzec extermination camp, Shmuel managed to escape to the Krakow ghetto. In March 1943, the ghetto was liquidated and Shmuel was deported to Auschwitz. When he arrived, he was selected for forced labor and sent to work in a coal mine.

On 18 January 1945, with the approach of the Red Army, Shmuel was forced on a death march with other prisoners. On reaching Buchenwald, he was sent to the Reimsdorf camp, where he was made to clear out bomb shrapnel and repair roofs that were damaged by Allied bombings.

In April 1945, Shmuel was sent on another death march - this time to the Terezin ghetto - and in May 1945, he was liberated by the Red Army. He returned to Poland and searched for his family, but discovered to his devastation that they had all been murdered. He joined a kibbutz set up by the Dror youth movement and began to help with the "Bericha" movement - the illegal immigration of hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors to western Europe on their way to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine).

In 1948, Shmuel immigrated to Israel and enlisted in the IDF. Upon his release, he joined the prison service. During the Eichmann trial, Shmuel was one of Eichmann's guards. "I showed him the number on my arm and said, 'You see this is an authentic number? I was in Auschwitz for two years and I survived.'"

Shmuel was one of the founders of the Association for Proszowice Immigrants, and was active in commemorating the town's Jews lost in the Shoah. He submitted hundreds of Pages of Testimony in memory of members of his community who were murdered in the Holocaust. He helped maintain the local Jewish cemetery, and erected a monument in the town in memory of the murdered.

Shmuel z"l and Rivka have two children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

*Shmuel Blumenfeld passed away on 15 April 2022.

Rebecca Elizur

Rebecca-Branca Lissauer (later Elizur) was born in 1934 in Amsterdam, to Jack, a textile merchant, and Rosalie-Rachel. She had an older brother, Joop-Joshua.

When Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, Rebecca was in the first grade.

In the summer of 1942, the family was arrested. "Mother told us to prepare a bag," Rebecca remembers. "One night, we were taken from our home to the Jewish Theater in Amsterdam. I cried all night." The family was taken to the Amersfoort camp and from there to the Westerbork transit camp, where, from the summer of 1942, deportation trains left weekly for the extermination camps in Eastern Europe.

"We stood by the departing trains and waved goodbye. The adults around me would cry because they knew that whoever went on those trains would never return."

The Jews imprisoned in Westerbork lived in constant fear of being included in the list of deportees. A few months later, the Lissauer family was put on the list, but because Jack had a British passport, they were assigned to be exchanged for Germans held by the Western Allies. Instead of being sent to the East, the family was deported to Bergen-Belsen, where the exchange candidates were concentrated.

"We were deported like animals. We were on top of one another, with no place to breathe. People relieved themselves on top of each other. From the windows we saw people at the railway stations, ordinary people, well-dressed. It made no sense."

In the camp, Rebecca and her mother were separated from her father and brother. "Mother would encourage the other prisoners, saying, 'What they are doing to us - it will end, because it cannot be that we are being abused for nothing. We should take courage, and hope and believe that we will survive this.' It helped a lot of people."

"We suffered from terrible hunger. We craved food. When I saw a woman eating bread, I could not stop looking at her, until she scolded me. My mother kept faith even when she was very weak, and suffered from diseases due to malnutrition. We had to stand for roll-call every day when they counted us over and over, as if someone could run away. We danced in the cold to keep warm."

In April 1945, Rebecca and her family were taken by train to an unknown destination. During the journey, the train was bombed, and the passengers jumped off the train and lay on the ground. "Mother protected our heads with her hands and told us to repeat our names, the names of our parents and our dates of birth, in case she was killed." A few days later, the prisoners were liberated by the Red Army.

"My parents went looking for food. Father came back with a violin. Mother came back with a doll for me, because I loved dolls so much and all those years I had no dolls."

Most of Rebecca's family members were murdered in the Holocaust.

After liberation, the family returned to Amsterdam, where Rebecca studied social work. In 1959, she immigrated to Israel and worked, among other things, supporting Dutch immigrants.

Rebecca and Dov have two daughters, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Zvi Glazer

Zvi Glazer (later Gill) was born in 1928 in the city of Zdunska Wola, Poland, to Israel and Ester, wealthy ultra-Orthodox Jews. He had two younger brothers, Arieh-Leib and Shmuel. Alongside traditional Jewish studies, he received a general education.

In the spring of 1940, a ghetto was established in the city. In August 1942, with the liquidation of the ghetto, the Germans conducted a census in the city center. "I stood by my grandpa David," Zvi later recalled. "They took us to the cemetery, where they separated us. My father and brothers were taken to the gas trucks in Chelmno. I did not let go of Grandpa's hand, but a German struck him and we were forced to separate." Zvi's mother was the head nurse at the ghetto's hospital. Knowing that anyone in bed would be killed, she made sure that every patient who could get up, even barely, did so. She then went out wearing her Red Cross hat and walked to the gathering point at the cemetery.

Zvi and his mother were transported in cattle cars to the Lodz ghetto, where Zvi became a member of the Zionist youth movement. "We had underground meetings. We learned about the Land of Israel and sang Zionist songs. A human bubble in the midst of the inferno. When you left that bubble, fantasizing about the Land of Israel with its blue sky, you came across corpses lying on the sidewalks for collection in carts or wheelbarrows." During the Aktionen, his mother hid him behind a closet. She survived the brutal roundups thanks to her profession. "I knew I was going to die," Zvi says. "The question was not if, but when."

"In August 1944, we heard explosions from Red Army cannons. We were hoping for liberation." But the ghetto was liquidated before the Red Army reached Lodz. The surviving Jews, including Zvi and his mother, were deported to Auschwitz. In Auschwitz, Zvi was separated from his mother and transferred to a forced labor camp, where he worked in an aircraft repair factory. From there he was taken to Dachau, and then to another camp in Germany, where he collapsed during forced labor in a heavy snowstorm.

"An older German guard saved my life. He removed the wet clothes from me, dried them, and gave me a slice of bread with jam. I saw Elijah the prophet in the form of a German guard."

Zvi contracted typhus. When he recovered, he was put on a train to an unknown destination. During the journey, air raid sirens sounded, and the guards ordered the prisoners to leave the carriages and lie down on the ground. During one of the alarms, Zvi escaped. The guards chased after him but he managed to slip away.

"I knew they were going to kill me. Every now and then, as I sit with my children, I wonder how I succeeded. It all depended on those two minutes of the escape."

Zvi arrived at the home of a German farmer. He introduced himself as a Pole and worked on the farm in exchange for food and accommodation until liberation.

In 1945, shortly before boarding a ship sailing from Italy to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine), he learned that his mother had survived. She joined him in 1947. Zvi fought in the War of Independence. He later became a writer, a senior journalist with the Israel Broadcasting Authority, and one of the founders of Israeli television. Zvi and Yehudith z"l have three daughters, ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Olga Kay

Olga Kay (née Czik) was born in 1926 in the town of Ujfeherto, Hungary, the ninth of ten siblings. The family, which was observant, was supported by her father Eliyahu's shoe store. Her brothers studied in Heder, and on Sundays they learned Hebrew.

On 15 April 1944, the family was deported to the village of Simapuszta.

"We were not rich. I took a small bundle: clothes and some jewelry. At first, we were taken to the town hall, and four weeks later, when enough people were concentrated there, we were taken on foot to the Nyíregyháza ghetto. We slept on straw thrown on the floor."

On 22 May 1944, Olga and her family were deported in cattle cars to Auschwitz. The journey lasted three days.

"When we were at the border my father said, 'My beloved, we are going to die.' He took the jewelry we had and threw it in a bucket full of feces so that the Germans would not find it."

Upon arrival in Auschwitz, most of the family was taken straight to the gas chambers and murdered there. Among the victims were Olga's parents Eliyahu and Lea; her sister Margaret and Margaret's daughter Suzie; and her older sister Bella's son Asher. Olga and her sister Eva underwent a selection: "We were taken to a room with other women, where we were stripped and shaved from head to toe," and then were sent to work in Auschwitz. In July 1944, they were sent to the Kaufering concentration camp in Germany. "One day, there was a bombing attack, including on the farm where we worked. The Russian prisoners were taken to bunkers and the Jewish girls were taken to another building. The bunker was directly hit, but the building was not, and the girls came out unscathed."

In November 1944, Olga and Eva were transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. A month later, their sister Bella was deported there, and the three met. "We were riddled with lice. We lay on the crowded floor. Everyone got sick and had diarrhea. There was no time to go to the outside toilets. People died one after another. We did not think, we did not talk to each other about what was going to happen. Death became commonplace. Today, you, and tomorrow, whoever was next to me."

"One day, on 15 April 1945 - I remember his face - a soldier came through the door and said we were liberated. We did not jump for joy. We were like automatons. We are liberated. What now? I went to get food, but I was weak. I weighed 25 kilograms (55 pounds). I fell and crawled on my knees and came back without food."

At liberation, Eva was extremely sick, and died in Bergen-Belsen. Olga's sisters Adele and Bori survived in the Ravensbrück camp. After the war, Olga and Bella were taken to Sweden to recuperate. From there they immigrated to New York, where Olga met her husband and started a family.

"When my daughter Evelyn was born, my first thought was: This is my victory over Hitler. We have returned from the ashes."

In 1985, Olga and her family followed their daughter to live in Israel.

Olga and George z"l have two daughters, five grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Arie Shilansky

Arie Shilansky was born in 1928 in the town of Siauliai, Lithuania, to a Zionist family, the youngest of four children. His father, Yosef Zvi Shilansky, died when he was born.

In June 1941, the Germans invaded and occupied Lithuania. A few weeks later, a ghetto was established in Siauliai, and Arie and his family were imprisoned there. "In the ghetto, we lived a life of hunger and humiliation," Arie later recalled. "I remember the horror of the public hanging of Bezalel Mazowiecki, who tried to smuggle food and cigarettes."

On 5 November 1943, the children's Aktion began in the ghetto. "My sister Chana came running, and said, 'Run to the Frenkel factory!' We fled the ghetto. The Jewish foreman of the factory quickly put us in a warehouse, hid the door behind an iron cabinet and told me: 'There are fifteen young children here. You are the oldest. Make sure there is complete silence so that they do not discover you.' I told them stories in order to keep them quiet. When people returned to the ghetto from work and found out that their children had been abducted, we heard terrible cries of anguish. Women tore their hair and banged their heads against the wall. The cry that reverberated in the ghetto resonates to this day."

In July 1944, with the approach of the Red Army, the ghetto was evacuated and its prisoners sent west. Among them was Arie, who, after several days of terrible overcrowding in a cattle car, arrived at the Stutthof concentration camp in northeastern Poland. "Within a minute, I was separated from the family and left alone. We were forced to undress. Everyone was shaved." Food was scarce and the prisoners were routinely beaten.

"Only people who were suitable for a task were taken to work, certainly not boys like me. But we all wanted to live, so we would try to join the ranks of the adults. We understood that whoever went to work would survive."

The guards would take Arie out of the ranks of the workers and beat him severely as punishment for joining them. Arie finally managed to join a group of workers who were transported to one of the sub-camps of Dachau in Germany, where he was assigned to forced labor. In early 1945, he was transferred to the Landsberg camp, where he found his brother, Dov. As the Allies approached, the prisoners, including the two brothers, were forced on a death march.

"On 1 May 1945, we were led, in heavy snow, to spend the night between two mountains. SS men positioned themselves around us with machine guns. We thought they were going to kill us. In the morning when we awoke, we realized that the SS men were gone. In the distance we heard loud noises. Americans. That was the moment of liberation."

After his release, Arie was reunited with his mother, Lea, and sisters, Chana and Chaya. He was taken to a hospital housed in the St. Ottilien Abbey in Germany. A delegation of the Jewish Brigade arrived at the monastery.

"It was a surprise. We did not believe that there were Jews left in the world. They promised that they would soon come again and take us to the Land of Israel. This goal gave us strength."

Some two weeks later, the Brigade's soldiers transferred Arie to Italy. In February 1948, he immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) and fought in the War of Independence.

Arie and Ruth have three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Shaul Spielmann

Shaul Spielmann was born in 1931 in Vienna, Austria, the only son of Benno, an engineer at the Austrian Electric Company, and Jossefa, a pianist who ran the family-owned delicatessen.

"The day after the Anschluss in March 1938, the principal informed me and the other two Jewish students that because of the Nuremberg Laws we could not continue to study at the school. I returned home in tears. My father told had also been fired."

"Two days later, SA officers broke into our apartment. One put a gun to my head and told my father that if he did not hand over all the money, gold and valuables in the house, he would have to scrape my brain off the wall. Mother collapsed. Father gave them everything. I was terribly afraid the officer would accidentally shoot, because his finger was on the trigger."

The Germans confiscated the family's apartment and delicatessen. The family made a living from Benno's work in the Jewish community. They remained in Austria with Shaul's grandfather, who was too unwell to leave.

One night in September 1942, Shaul and his family were sent to a Jewish school that had been turned into a detention facility and from there were taken to the Terezin ghetto. About a year later, in November 1943, they were deported to Auschwitz.

"I wish I could forget the ramp at Birkenau. There, the gates of hell opened. We were surrounded by SS men with formidable dogs. Screams from the loudspeakers and bright spotlights on all sides." Elderly people, who fell onto the ramp as they exited, were trampled to death by those getting off the wagon. "It was freezing. Even the blood that had been shed froze."

Shaul's grandmother died in the camp. Jossefa became ill and was transferred to the Infirmary Block.

"I knocked on the wall and called her name until she answered me. I managed to move a wooden board and looked inside. She was a skeleton and could not get out of bed. One morning, her body was taken out on a cart."

Shaul's name was on the list of prisoners destined for extermination, but his father Benno, who worked in the camp office as a registrar, moved it to a list of older boys, thus saving him from death. Benno was sent to another labor camp. "I saw my father among the marching prisoners. I managed to throw him a bag over the electric fence. He gestured with his fist: 'Hold on.' That was the last time I saw him." In August 1944, Shaul was selected for extermination. However, the Children's Block overseer, Viennese by birth, appealed the decision, arguing that Shaul was essential for work. Shaul was saved once more.

In January 1945, Shaul and the other prisoners were forced on a death march.

"We walked in forests, on paths strewn with corpses. At night, the prisoners lay on the floor in the frost; by morning, some had frozen to death."

Shaul was liberated by the US Army in the Gunskirchen camp while suffering from typhus. After recovering, he immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) and volunteered for the Palmach. He fought and was wounded in the War of Independence. He fought in all the subsequent Israeli wars until the Yom Kippur War. He worked in Magen David Adom in the Negev area, saving many lives and training the younger generations.

Shaul and Myriam have seven children, 18 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Read about past years' Torchlighters

Torchlighters pictures and bios courtesy of Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.

A History Of The Holocaust

If you would like to make a donation to help Jews still suffering from anti-Semitism and poverty today, you can do so by visiting www.ifcj.org THANK YOU!

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